With everything that goes on in a public school these days, why has actual teaching been shuffled so far down the list of priorities, behind:
- Fire Drill/Police Dog Drug Search
- Professional Development
- Addressing Damage in the Bathrooms
- Sports in all its forms (mostly afternoon disruptions, but we're coming up on skiing and snowboard season, and spring has golf ... 8am meets and competitions are the norm.
- "Pardon the interruption for this announcement."
- Service Organizations.
- Class Fundraising going door-to-door.
- Class Meetings
- Pep Rallies
- Anti-Bad Things Assemblies
- Teacher Education/School Visits/conferences/workshops
- Principal doing Teacher Evaluations (Major disruption when he sits clicking his laptop)
- Anything the Administration finds on their calendars.
- Send the kids to the office if they're late ... to get a pass and come back to class.
- Talk to the kid in trouble, set up a detention ... for missing class.
- Meeting with the State College Scholarship rep who tells them they need to be sure they're attending class. Said meeting happens during class.
- Anti-Drug counselor pulls them to have them sit in her comfy chair and eat cookies.
- Volunteer Fire Department Rescue calls.
- Field Trips for non-academic things.
- Family vacations and appointments.
- Illnesses that mysteriously occur on test days.
- Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice. Inservice.
"This is the only time we could schedule 'Bodybuilders Against Drugs' and I didn't want to let the opportunity pass by."
"I think everyone in the department should attend this workshop."
You might point out that teacher education and workshops and school visits are intended to improve the overall teaching and improve the school. I worry that the professional development is explicitly expected to take a couple of years to come to full fruition ... and this is the only education these kids will get.
Sure, I can take the long view, but what of that senior? What will replace this year for her if we continually mess with it? It's part of what lead to my previous rant about research. I WANT to use the best ideas, but I don't care to spend a lot of time trying to winnow out the chaff and uncover the lone jewel of future glory at the expense of the students I already have.
I'm expressly NOT wishing for repetitive, boring, lock-step, soul-crushing monotony. This isn't a prison and can't be run like one. That's not what this is about. It's about predictability and finding security in knowing what's coming and when, and that school, unlike many of their homes, is about habits of mind and habits of behavior and learning everything you can while it's still free.
You might think it silly, but knowing that "Every Friday is a quiz in History" is actually comforting to a majority of students. The worst thing in a high school is to change everything suddenly. When you call "everyone out to the courtyard for an impromptu dance to relieve stress", you frustrate everyone who was just about to get to work, you get the ADHD kids going on something new at the exact wrong time, and you raise the anxiety levels of everyone.
It's easy to sit in an office and look at a shiny new workshop proposal and find a blank day on the calendar to schedule it in isolation, but that's messing with the rhythm of the school. When there's no rhythm in a school, there's no soul and no quiet confidence.
When did teaching move so far down the list of priorities?